This ancient Christian practice (also known as spiritual companioning) essentially offers a faith "life coach" to help navigate how God is calling you in your life. Most priests and professional church ministers have spiritual directors, but an increasing number of lay people are taking advantage of this tool.
The "direction" moniker is misleading, as the one in the "director" is simply offering insights or tools to the directee to help them direct their own relationship with God.
Direction is focused on a person's experience of and developing relationship with God. How do we come to know and experience God better, and how does this affect the way we live?
[S]piritual direction is concerned with helping a person directly with his or her relationship with God... and its underlying questions: "Who is God for me, and who ami I for him?"
William A. Barry & William J. Connolly
[A]s the centuries rolled by four prejudices conspired to move people not only into a passive position but also into a spiritually inferior one.... These prejudices constitute severe obstacles to the ideal of Vatican II's universal call to holiness....
William J. Bausch
The Hands-On Parish
In order for us to grow and develop our relationship with the Lord, we need some competent guidance and encouragement to surmount the problems which plague us. As we strive to grow and mature spiritually, our path is beset with uncertainties, doubts, and misgivings. At times we lose our sense of direction. The question haunts us: what does the Lord really want us to do?
David E. Rosage
Beginning Spiritual Direction
David E. Rosage
Many Christians today are rediscovering how spiritual direction can be a blessing for their lives. Yet many are still puzzled about how to begin receiving spiritual direction. Drawing on more than 30 years experience as a spiritual counselor, Msgr. Rosage shows how to begin a spiritual journey designed to lead to a deeper understanding of God's will. (Amazon)
Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God
What is spiritual direction and my spiritual direction? What are my "blind spots" and how can I uncover them? What keeps me from all the spiritual riches Christ has for me? How can I better understand where I am in my spiritual progress?
Daniel Burke's Navigating the Interior Life will give you the tools you need to understand how and why we grow and die in the spiritual life and what we can do about it. (Amazon)
- Spiritual Direction - including reference list (IgnatianSpirituality.com)
- A ministry of listening: Mercy Sister reflects on her 30 years in the art of spiritual direction (Liz Dossa, Catholic San Francisco)
- Spiritual Direction (Wikipedia)
Organizations & Websites
Spiritual Directors International
A global learning community of people from many faiths and many nations who share a common passion and commitment to the art and contemplative practice of spiritual direction, known as spiritual companionship, spiritual guidance, anam cara in Gaelic, and mashpiah in Hebrew. Offers referrals to local directors.
Parishes should educate their members about what direction is, encourage them to take advantage of it and make it easy to do so.
Ideally, parishes will offer free direction at the parish itself. One parish paid for a member to become a trained director, on the condition that she would offer free direction to parishioners. Ask parishioners to donate to the parish what they would have paid the director. If not offering free direction, prepare a space at the parish for use by directors, seek out directors to utilize it, and connect parishioners with them.